It's 3:45 am on a Sunday morning and I can't sleep. I'm sitting quietly alone at my computer with my dog laying to my right and my cat to my left. I made a cup of coffee and its nice and warm on my desk. My surroundings are peaceful but my insides are not.
Life is "funny" sometimes. For about 2 years now, I have been attending group therapy on Tuesday nights. My group is made up of 9 people and a therapist. We are a variety of ages and we all bring different issues to the group. It's like the movies portray it. We sit in a circle and talk about our problems while hoping to get feedback, and guided direction. Group can serve as a sounding board, provide encouragement, and the group can help carry your burdens. From the beginning, I have been anxious every time I step in to group. I know what I'm there for. I'm there to talk about my sexual abuse. For me, it's a slow process. I've spent most of my time in group talking around my subject, discussing how hard it is to talk about any of it; How it's shameful, how I'm fearful, how I'm disgusted, how I still keep some secrets, how I find myself pretending instead of feeling, how challenging it is, how ugly it is and so on and so on. I also have discussed how I faithfully trust the process, trust my therapist, and know that I am making progress, even though it doesn't feel that way sometimes. From the beginning, my gut knew that I needed to get to a place where I could use my voice and discuss the abuse done to me.
I'm not sure why. Some may think that is not necessary. I believe that every person needs to figure out what is best for them. Do what helps you heal the most. I thought - If I can talk about it, I can free myself from the SHAME of it. If I can talk about it, I am STRONG enough to use my voice and overpower it. If I can talk about it, it won't CONTROL me as much. If I can talk about it, I can rid myself of the weight of it. If I can talk about it, I can GET RID OF IT!
I talked about it! 2 weeks ago. My abuse story is many chapters so lets just say I discussed a "chapter" with the group. I got it out of my mouth. Let's keep it real - I didn't make eye contact with anybody (and Lord knows I wanted to crawl in a hole afterwards). I was sweating, wringing my hands, fiddling with my bracelet and shaking my foot all at the same time. Anxiety at it's finest! Details of some of my abuse were discussed - details came out of my mouth.
For me, it takes a while to process things. I left exhausted but feelings of being proud of myself evolved in me over the next few days.
The following week, we were hit with Hurricane Ida. Beautiful south Louisiana was devastated by a Category 4 storm causing destruction all throughout it's path. Ida left her mark with homes destroyed or flooded, and trees snapped or uprooted everywhere. My family alone lost 22 trees. Power lines were down everywhere. Generators hummed, gas lines formed, and survival mode kicked in for all. I watched humanity come to life around here. People just helped people. It was a beautiful sight. Amen to that!
Needless to say, Group therapy was cancelled for the week of the Hurricane. We returned last week to pick back up where we left off.
This is where the kick in the gut comes in or the naivety of the situation grabs hold of me. I learned that my abuse description was disturbing, excruciating to hear, awkward, and caused an uneasiness in the room and with a particular group member. When I was told this, ANGER filled me. Didn't it take me 2+ years to even get the words out of my mouth? I thought, "I have so much more to say!" "I'm just getting started." "It was excruciating and awkward for me to live through it." Screw all of this. What am I doing here? Then it shifted to SHAME. My story is SO gross that people can't even listen to it without being disturbed. I am disgusting, I am gross.
This morning I can finally speak for the group members. They are human. What I say IS disturbing. The challenge of what I bring to the group is hard. For the past week, I've felt weird, ALONE and kind of gross. I have been encouraged to continue speaking my truth from my therapist and that we'll "navigate through this". I trust her, believe her, and faithfully believe that God has all of this. Sexual abuse is hard. It's ugly. No one REALLY wants to have a conversation about it. The reality for me is...I need to fight against the fear and talk about it.
We'll see what this week brings and how we'll work through the challenges of difficult conversations. If I'm honest, I now have some hesitancy (and I didn't need that). Please pray that God will continue to convict me and help me through this process of healing. Abuse can be like a hurricane. It comes in, leaves a mark, and destroys things. The healing process or rebuilding is slow and ongoing. It takes people, support, encouragement and faith to continue to journey.
Thanks for the support,